Rural round-up

April 26, 2020

Mental health during a global pandemic:

Farmers are used to adversity. We are used to our livelihoods, and our families effected by forces beyond our control.

We watch as our entire crop is destroyed in a ten-minute storm. We grieve powerless, as disease rips through our herd. And we have seen our food stores burnt to the ground during times of conflict. We watch market prices tank when global production is good, we pray for rain, for markets, for health and for safety. And, on a daily basis we pray for an understanding of who we are and what we do.

Under the pressure of a global pandemic it is suddenly as if the entire world knows a little of what it is to be a farmer. We are perhaps at once the most connected and disconnected as we will ever be, we are a world experiencing fear, failure, grief, anxiety, and hope. And we are experiencing it together and all too often, alone . . 

Rotorua Lakes Council accused of ‘no show’ on SNAs – Felix Desmarais:

Farmers are “disappointed” after Rotorua Lakes Council failed to independently submit on a piece of government policy they say could result in a six percent increase in rates.

But the council says Local Government NZ submitted on its behalf and it does not submit on all proposed policy and legislation changes.

The National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity (NPSIB) closed submissions on 14 March. . .

Review of methane contribution a step in the right direction:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has welcomed Climate Change Minister James Shaw’s request to the Climate Change Commission (CCC) to review and provide advice to the Government on New Zealand’s international greenhouse gas reduction targets.

The Climate Change Commission is best placed to ensure there’s consistency between New Zealand’s international and domestic targets, and to provide scientifically-sound, depoliticised advice to the Government.  We support Minister Shaw’s request to the Commission,” says B+LNZ’s Environment Policy Manager Dylan Muggeridge. 

“The Government took a world leading split-gas approach to the Zero Carbon Act and we ask that the Commission consider if New Zealand’s international target should be recommunicated as a split-gas target. “ . . 

Independent grocers ask for flexibility to open in alert level 3 – Indira Stewart:

The government has been asked for flexibility to allow more independent grocers and other food outlets to fully open at level 3, Horticulture New Zealand says.

The lockdown has crippled produce supply to New Zealanders despite supermarkets staying open and many independent growers and grocers say their businesses might not survive the next few weeks.

Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman said the Covid-19 crisis had stopped nearly 30 percent of fresh produce making it to retail shelves. . .

Hunters should be allowed on conservation land:

Hunting restrictions at level 3 should be relaxed even further to allow for hunting on conservation land, National’s Conservation spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.

“It simply doesn’t make any sense that it’s acceptable to hunt on private land but not conservation land.

“Many hunters don’t have access to private land and rely on their local conservation areas to take part.

“ACC data shows that hunting is a safe recreational activity and that those who participate take health and safety seriously. In terms of fatalities hunting is about six times safer than swimming and three and a half times safer than road cycling. . . .

Farm Environment awards recognise value of NZ farmers:

The Covid-19 lockdown has prompted organisers of New Zealand’s most prestigious farm awards to take an innovative approach when recognising this year’s top farmers.

The Ballance Farm Environment Award’s ceremony schedule was interrupted by the country going into lockdown on March 23, after the announcement of only two regions’ winners, Canterbury and East Coast.

“We were determined to keep up the recognition of our other nine regional winners, even if it meant we had to do away with the ceremony and occasion that accompanies it. So we will kick off on April 22 with our first “on line” ceremony, for the Horizons region,” says James Ryan, general manager for award backers the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust. . . 


Rural round-up

February 7, 2020

Coronavirus: Generates a “perfect storm” for meat exporters & a “get prepared” warning for other business:

Business exporters and importers are advised to take steps to ensure there are ‘no surprises,’ if trade with China is disrupted by the Coronavirus situation.

“Talk to your bank, make sure customer expectations are established and understood, and that no sudden surprises occur,” suggests Auckland Business Chamber head, Michael Barnett.

He sees a perfect storm coming for meat and other traders. . . 

New Zealand forest owners wary of closing access risk in Chinese market:

New Zealand log exporters are bracing themselves for supply chain problems in China due to the outbreak of coronavirus.

Some forest owners are already reducing their harvesting rate. Regrettably this will have an immediate effect on harvesting crew employment.

The New Zealand Forest Owners Association says that the extended Lunar New Year public holiday makes it difficult to know what is going to happen when sawmills in China restart. . . 

Fake meat ‘an opportunity not a threat’ for Kiwi farmers – Esther Taunton:

Taranaki dairy farmer Trish Rankin used to worry about the rise of plant-based proteins. Not anymore.

Now she sees alternative proteins paving the way for Kiwi farmers to market their meat and dairy to consumers who just want to do one thing “better”.

“Things like the Impossible Burger aren’t aimed at vegetarians and vegans, they’re aimed at meat eaters who want a meal that’s better for the environment, better for animal health and welfare, and lower in cholesterol.  

“Our meat and dairy ticks those boxes and when people start realising that they can make better choices without having to eat fake meat, that’s where we can come in – we’re the ‘possible’ to the Impossible customer.” . . 

Farmers waiting to count the cost – Richard Davison, Louise Scott, and Karen Pasco:

Farmers across Southland and Otago are counting the cost of serious flooding which has left hundreds of farms underwater and resulted in lost livestock and ruined crops.

The Government declared last night it was a ‘‘medium scale adverse event’’, opening the way for funding of $100,000 through Rural Support Trusts to speed up recovery and provide technical advice.

Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor, who had flown over the affected areas, said the response to the flooding event had been ‘‘absolutely amazing’’. . .

Plant and Food Research sponsors Inaugural Ahuwhenua Trophy competition for horticulture:

Plant & Food Research is proud to be a Gold sponsor of the prestigious Ahuwhenua Trophy, Excellence in Māori Horticulture Award 2020. This year marks the first time since its establishment in 1933 that the competition has celebrated outstanding Māori in the horticultural industry.

David Hughes, CEO, Plant & Food Research says, “For decades the competition has alternated between dairy and sheep & beef farming each year. We appreciate this timely recognition of Māori contribution to horticulture. We’re particularly delighted to support this event and be part of its legacy because we believe good practices in horticulture are fundamental for us and te hapori whānui to build a smart green future together.” . .

Zero-carbon Britain presents a subsidy challenge for farmers – Jeremy Clarkson:

There is currently a lot of snarling and teeth-grinding about government plans to let a Chinese company called Huawei install and run lightning-fast 5G services for our driverless cars and our mobile phones and our wind farms.

The Americans say this is madness, because, should there ever be any hostilities with China, which isn’t entirely out of the question, Huawei could come through an electronic back door and instruct our driverless cars to crash into our wind farms, and our nuclear submarines to rain fire on our own cities.

Or the Chinese could simply push a button and switch the whole system off, which would turn Britain into a muddy, medieval hovel full of disease and people with warts on their faces. Imagine your kidwith no wi-fi. You can’t, can you? . . 

New partnership supports sustainable future for New Zealand farming:

We’re delighted to announce that Ruralco has become a strategic partner of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust and will be aligned with the nationwide Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The new partnership is timely, as those eligible for the 2020 Awards have just been finalised and can be viewed here.

Ruralco is a values-led farming cooperative that has been supporting farming businesses and their families with competitive pricing and real value since 1963. Their vision is to be the partner of choice for rural New Zealand, a goal which includes supporting credible organisations that are committed to building a sustainable future for farming. . .


Rural round-up

April 17, 2019

Thriving in a demanding environment :

Andrew and Lynnore Templeton, who own and operate The Rocks Station, near Middlemarch, won the regional supreme title at the Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards in Dunedin.

The awards are run by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust and the supreme regional winners from each of the 11 districts will be profiled at the awards’ National Sustainability Showcase in Hamilton on June 6.

The Templetons also won the Massey University Innovation Award, which recognises the farmer or grower that demonstrated Kiwi ingenuity for solving a problem or pursuing a new opportunity. . . 

Mid-Canterbury dominates M. bovis cases – Heather Chalmers:

Mid-Canterbury has taken the biggest hit from cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis, with the district accounting for 41 per cent of all cases. 

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) figures show that 67 of 161 properties confirmed positive with the disease were in the region.

Of these, 23 properties remain contaminated and 44 have been cleared. 

The ministry’s M. bovis programme director Geoff Gwyn told farmers in Ashburton that the region was “carrying a disproportionate share of the burden” in its efforts to eradicate the disease.  . . 

 

Court orders Chinese owner of Wairarapa farm to settle access row before he sells – Andrea Vance:

The Chinese owner of a Wairarapa sheep station wants to sell it to a Kiwi buyer – but that won’t stop an extraordinary dispute over public access, which has now reached the courts.

For more than two years, officials and the Chinese owner of the sprawling $3.3 million Kawakawa Station, at Cape Palliser, have been deadlocked over access to a forest hut and tramping route.

Mediation to resolve the dispute failed late last year and triggered legal action.

Hong-Kong based Eric Chun Yu Wong has decided to sell the station back to an un-named Kiwi buyer. . . 

Kaumatua urges community restraint in Kawakawa dispute:

Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa kaumatua, Sir Kim Workman, has asked the Wairarapa community to withhold its judgement around the Kawakawa Station dispute, following yesterday’s Stuff article by Andrea Vance, ‘Court orders Chinese owner of Wairarapa farm to settle access row before he sells

‘In June 2018, the Walkways Access Commission publicised this issue while the dispute negotiation was still in progress. The impact of WAC’s conduct on Mr Wong and his family was incendiary. Xenophobia emerged in full flight. Mr Wong became a foreign demon who was interfering with the rights of good old Kiwis. It adversely affected their walking tour business, and the then managers were openly referred to as ‘chink-lovers’. They resigned, and the backlash contributed to Mr Wong’s decision to sell the farm.’

This latest publicity has the potential to unleash yet another round of racism and hatred. When that happens, it disrupts the peace of our community, and sets neighbour against neighbour. We must avoid that at all costs. . . 

Demand for cage-free eggs contributes to national egg shortage – Karoline Tuckey:

While a national egg shortage could mean higher prices, it’s unlikely the hot breakfast staple will disappear from supermarket shelves.

Poultry Industry Association executive director Michael Brooks said supply problems were causing the shortages nationally.

The number of laying hens nationally has dropped from 4.2 million at the end of last year, to 3.6 million.

“We’re just going to see a lesser amount of eggs, and that will probably translate to some extent to price increases, just because of a shortage of supply,” said Michael Brooks. . . 

People’s role recognised in sustainable journeys:

The Ballance Farm Environment Awards have long been a respected, exciting highlight in the rural calendar, with each year’s award winners doing much to showcase the best this country has to offer in farming talent that recognises and respects the environment they depend upon.

This year the awards have a welcome addition with national realtor Bayleys sponsoring a “People in the Primary Sector” award.

Bayleys national country manager Duncan Ross said the company’s move to sponsor the people category in the awards is a timely one, given the focus within the agri-sector on recruiting, keeping and advancing young talent. . . 

Garlic production property for sale:

The land and buildings housing a trio of commercial businesses – including the processing and distribution plant of New Zealand’s largest garlic grower – have been placed on the market for sale.

The site at Grovetown near Blenheim in Marlborough consists of 1.4350 hectares of freehold triangular-shaped rural zoned land at 377 Vickerman Street.

The site is occupied by three tenancies – Marlborough Garlic Ltd, Kiwi Seed Co (Marlborough) Ltd and Ironside Engineering Ltd. Combined, the three businesses generate an annual rental return of $138,347 +GST. . . 


Rural round-up

August 4, 2018

Property rights are being forgotten – Gerry Eckhoff:

William Pitt the elder (1708-78) got it right with a famous speech in which he said – in part – ”The poorest man in his cottage may bid defiance to the Crown. It may be frail. The roof may shake, the wind may enter, the rain and storm may enter but the king of England may not – nor all his forces dare cross the threshold of that ruined tenement”.

While Hunter Valley Station hardly qualifies as a ”ruined tenement”, the principle of security of tenure and the right to exclude the Crown and by association, the public, holds as true today as it did in the 18th century

And so the debate begins, yet again, 240-odd years later. There are those who seek access to every corner of this fair country but who choose to ignore the common courtesy of seeking permission of the owner. During the last tenure of the previous Labour government, Helen Clark sought to pass legislation to force a right of entry to all rural land which included freehold, Maori, and leasehold land, but especially pastoral lease land. . .

Kiwifruit Industry ‘New Zealand labour just not there’ – Kate Gutsell:

The kiwifruit industry is facing a shortfall of 7000 workers as it predicts it will double in value in the next ten years.

The industry body, Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated, has released a report which estimates the $2.1 billion industry will generate $4b of revenue by 2027.

Kiwifruit is already New Zealand’s largest horticulture export and the report is forecasting production will jump by 54 percent, from 123 million trays to 190 million by 2027. . .

Westland Milk to review ownership as it strives to boost returns – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Westland Milk Products, whose payments to its cooperative shareholders have lagged behind rivals, may change its ownership structure as it looks at ways to improve returns.

Hokitika-based Westland said today it has appointed Macquarie Capital and DG Advisory to consider potential capital and ownership options that will create a more sustainable capital structure and support a higher potential payout. All options will be explored in the process expected to run for several months, it said. . .

Economic outlook the sour note in farm confidence survey:

Pessimism about the economic outlook is a sour note among the otherwise generally positive indicators in the Federated Farmers July Farm Confidence Survey.

This is the 19th time the twice-yearly survey has been conducted and for the first time farmer optimism has increased in all areas except their continuing negative perceptions of the economy, Feds Vice-President Andrew Hoggard says. . .

Farmers worried as Government increases costs:

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor confirmed in Parliament’s Question Time today that farmers will face ‘additional costs’ under his Government, National’s Agriculture Spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“Mr O’Connor has previously signalled a climate tax for farmers, slashed the Primary Growth Partnership fund and won’t fund any new water storage projects,” Mr Guy says. . .

The European Union rejected genome edited crops – Matt Ridley:

The European Court of Justice has just delivered a scientifically absurd ruling, in defiance of advice from its advocate general, but egged on by Jean-Claude Juncker’s allies. It will ensure that more pesticides are used in Britain, our farmers will be less competitive and researchers will leave for North America. Thanks a bunch, your honours. 

By saying that genome-edited crops must be treated to expensive and uncertain regulation, it has pandered to the views of a handful of misguided extremists, who no longer have popular support in this country. . . 

Tell your story by entering the Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Farmers and growers are being encouraged to enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards for 2018/19. The awards are organised by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, a charity set up to promote sustainable farming and growing.

The Chair of the Trust is Joannne van Polanen, who farms in Mid-Canterbury. Joanne says “There’s a lot of discussion about the need for the primary sector to tell our stories. The awards provide an opportunity for farmers and growers to share the positive actions they are involved in with their local community and a wider audience.” . . 

Pact Group launch first rPET bottles for NZ milk producer:

Pact Group subsidiary Alto Packaging has announced the launch of the new 750ml and 1.5litre milk bottles made from 100% recycled plastic polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) for Lewis Road.

Malcolm Bundey Managing Director and CEO of Pact Group says “Pact is proud to have designed and manufactured these bottles. We are excited to be in partnership with Lewis Road and part of their journey to become New Zealand’s first milk producer to switch to using entirely recycled materials for these two products.” . . 


Orchardists ambassadors for sustainable farming/growing

June 8, 2018

The Ballance Farm Environment Award has been won by orchardists for the first time:

Bay of Plenty Kiwifruit Growers Mark and Catriona White Are the New National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing.

The New Zealand Farm Environment Trust (NZFET) runs the Ballance Farm Environment Awards and announced the Recipients of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy at an awards function at Te Papa in Wellington on Thursday night – chosen from 11 regional supreme winners gathered from throughout the country.

Ten years ago, the Whites embarked on a quest to find an improved lifestyle for their family away from the city and found it on a bare block of land near Opotiki. Their work and passion has transformed a 5.85ha section of a former organic dairy farm into the Coastal Kiwis Orchard it is today.

Former national ambassador Dianne Kidd from Helensville, who chaired the judging panel, says the Whites demonstrate an excellent understanding of all aspects of sustainable food production.

“They are outstanding strategic and agile thinkers on the key issues for New Zealand and have strong primary sector and community leadership qualities. They communicate and operate exceptionally well as a team and are natural leaders with a wealth of knowledge and experience and a willingness to impart this to others.”

She says Mark and Catriona show a respect for the Maori principles of kaitiakitanga – acting as guardian, protector and conserver – within their kiwifruit orchard management.

“They are strong users of evidence-based science and technology in their business and orchard and demonstrate a broad global market understanding and a real energy to be agents of change. They come from diverse careers into the primary sector bringing their expertise and capital to their chosen horticultural business and the community in Opotiki.”

Catriona’s family has been on the farm for four generations. Although they initially did not know much about kiwifruit, the couple did most of the physical development work themselves, keeping costs down and learning by their mistakes. Mark also did a National Certificate in Horticulture.

The orchard is BioGro certified. It has 3.19 ha of Zespri Organic Green kiwifruit, producing in 2017 a total of 23,483 trays of kiwi-start fruit. Zespri Organic SunGold (G3) is currently grown on 2.65 ha producing 38,362 trays. This production was achieved in a “challenging growing year” which included various cyclones and a very wet and windy autumn. Recently developed blocks of SunGold have come into production this season.

Alongside Kidd on the national judging panel were Warwick Catto from Ballance Agri-Nutrients, NZFET’s Jamie Strang, George Murdoch from Rabobank and Julia Jones from KPMG.

“New Zealand can be proud of the global leading achievements of our farmers and growers,” Kidd says.

“New Zealand media needs to help tell these great stories about our outstanding food producers. A common theme from this year’s supreme regional winners is a focus and clear understanding there is a need to connect with our consumers – a real market focus.”

The supreme winners of 11 regional awards were invited to the Showcase in Wellington to be considered for the trophy named in honour of Waikato farmer and noted conservationist, the late Gordon Stephenson. As a national award it is separate to the regional programme and judged under different criteria.

Chair of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, Joanne van Polanen, says she is looking forward to supporting the Whites fulfil their ambassadorial duties including an overseas study tour. “Catriona and Mark will do the country proud as food producers of the highest quality.”


Rural round-up

November 6, 2017

Precision agriculture more than just boys and their toys – Gerald Piddock:

Precision agriculture is more than flashy expensive toys and tools

The uptake of this technology cannot be taken too lightly for New Zealand’s farming future as the industry looks at ways of being productive and profitable at a reduced environmental footprint.

The precision agriculture toolbox farmers have is enormous, ranging from measuring and mapping farmland, the precise use of fertiliser and water to livestock traceability using electronic identification tags. . . 

Mad about sheep – Country Life:

Now she’s here, Dayanne Almeida is on a mission to spread the word about sheep farming in New Zealand.

The Brazilian animal scientist was determined to find work on a New Zealand sheep farm so she sent 500 emails to farmers with her CV and references.

She received one job offer.

That was in 2009.

Now Dayanne is working for Wairere Rams in Wairarapa and, whenever she gets the chance, live-streams commentary and video footage about sheep farming activities to the 14-thousand people around the world who follow her Sheep Nutter Facebook page. . .

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First-hand perspectives a decade of levy value:

This month marks a key milestone – 10 years since DairyNZ was formed to support dairy farmers and drive our sector forward.

Over the past decade, the dairy levy has been invested in a wide range of programmes, enabling DairyNZ and its partners to deliver the research, tools and advice farmers need to manage new challenges. Inside Dairy spoke to four farmers who have experienced the benefits of their levy investment directly.

Conall Buchanan

Paeroa dairy farmer Conall Buchanan represented farmers during the development of a 30-year marine spatial plan for the Hauraki Gulf.

Conall Buchanan can speak from a well-informed position about the benefits he’s received from DairyNZ’s commitment to more sustainable dairying. . . 

New Farm Environment Trust Chair looks forward to showcasing farming excellence:

Joanne van Polanen, the new Chair of the Trust which runs the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, says that the organisation is looking forward to working with the new Government to showcase the efforts that farmers and growers are making to balance the needs of the environment, animals, plants and people.

Mrs van Polanen was appointed the new Chair of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust at the Trust’s recent Annual Meeting. She had previously been Treasurer and Deputy Chair of the Trust.

Mrs van Polanen commented that “the Trust is uniquely placed to work across the primary sector to promote farming excellence with other farmers and growers. Increasingly, farmers and growers are reframing environmental issues as opportunities. We would like to see New Zealand’s farmers and growers recognised as global leaders in the stewardship of land and water”. . .

Investors turn to Israeli agritech as demand for food swells – Shoshanna Solomon:

Israeli agriculture technologies for farmers have attracted some seven percent of global investment in the first half of 2017, a new report shows.

Israeli agritech firms, whose technologies are used by farmers to improve the yield of crops and better monitor produce — called on-farm technologies — raised $80 million in the first half of the year, according to data released by Start-Up Nation Central, a nonprofit organization that connects companies and organizations to Israeli technology firms. . .


Rural round-up

January 13, 2017

Global milk production downturn bodes well – Simon Hartley:

The global downturn in milk production bodes well for New Zealand’s dairy farmers for much of 2017 and is increasing the likelihood of a boost in estimated payouts.

Between the key whole milk powder prices rising 45% during the past six months and six of the seven major dairy-producing countries reporting production declines, Rabobank’s dairy quarterly report paints a reasonably positive outlook for 2017.

However, recovery may become the catchphrase of the current season, as opposed to outright profitability, and the US currency may yet have a major impact, and on various markets.

Co-author Rabobank dairy analyst Emma Higgins said the recent rally in global dairy prices heralded further positives as global efforts to increase overall production would take time. . . 

A woman valued and connected within the dairy industry – Anne Boswell:

Anne Boswell talks to an Atiamuri dairy farmer who can’t sit still, busy with family, friends, land and organisations helping farming women succeed.

Connection – to one’s family, friends and like-minded people – is fundamental to personal wellbeing but can be challenging for farmers, says Atiamuri dairy farmer and Dairy Women’s Network trustee Karen Forlong.

“Fundamentally we are hard-wired to need to belong to something, to feel a connection to something over and above ‘I am what I work at’,” she says. 

“Farming’s a business, but it’s so much more than that, and equally, the success of my farm does not define me as a person.” . . 

Ryan looks forward to challenges:

The New Zealand Farm Environment Trust’s new General Manager James Ryan is looking forward to the challenges the new job will bring.

Christchurch-based James Ryan, a former policy manager with DairyNZ, was appointed in October this year.  

He says the Trust will play a crucial role in guiding farmers through an era of increasingly complex sustainability issues. . . 

Fonterra & LIC Set to Release Farm Performance System – Agrigate:

Fonterra and Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) are in the final stages of developing an online tool, Agrigate, designed specifically to help farmers improve their farm performance through the use of their existing data.

Agrigate has been developed by the two farmer-owned co-operatives to make it easier for farmers to:

• access key information about their farming business in one place

• identify areas where they can benchmark their performance on a scale that they have not been able to in the past

• make smarter and faster decisions

• manage their environmental information (e.g. nutrient management) . . 

NZ commodity prices rise for eighth month, buoyed by dairy recovery – Rebecca Howard

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand commodity prices rose in December, the eighth consecutive monthly gain, as dairy prices continued to improve.

The ANZ Commodity Price Index advanced 0.7 percent in December to 277.3 and was up 16.5 percent on an annual basis. In New Zealand dollar terms the index increased 2 percent in the month and rose 9.4 percent on an annual basis as the kiwi eased against the greenback and the British pound.

Dairy was the standout performer as tight global milk supplies and improved Chinese import demand continued to be the main drivers, said ANZ agri economist Con Williams. . . .

Comvita expects to realise $30M from sale of Medihoney, shares in US partner – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita, the manuka honey products company, has sold its Medihoney brand to US partner Derma Sciences for about $19 million, and will reap a further $11 million selling Derma shares in a takeover offer of the Nasdaq-listed company.

The gross proceeds of the Medihoney deal will amount to US$13.25 million, with a US$5 million earnout payable on sales milestones being achieved, Comvita said in a statement to the NZX. Comvita also owns 1.1 million shares in Derma Sciences, which announced on Jan. 10 that it will be acquired by Nasdaq-listed Integra LifeSciences for US$7 per share by the end of March. That values Comvita’s stake at about $11 million, it said. . . 

Fonterra extends sway over Aussie dairy industry with Bellamy’s ‘poison pill’ – Brian Robbins:

Fonterra is in the box seat to control the future of Australian company Bellamy’s Organic under an effective “poison pill” arrangement that can be triggered if a shareholder group controls more than 30 per cent of Bellamy’s capital.

The troubled infant formula group outlined details on Wednesday of a new arrangement with Fonterra that allows the New Zealand group to terminate a key supply deal if a shareholder group controls more than 30 per cent of the Tasmanian company’s capital.

The disclosure, along with news of the replacement of Laura McBain, the chief executive of Bellamy’s, by another senior executive, Andrew Cohen, on an interim basis, came as part of a trading update to investors. . . 

Tasmanian dairy company Bellamy’s CEO Laura McBain to leave after price plummet – Caitlin Jarvis:

Launceston-headquartered dairy company Bellamy’s has replaced chief executive Laura McBain.

The embattled baby formula company announced to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) that Andrew Cohen has been appointed acting chief executive.

The announcement was made by the organic dairy company’s chairman Rob Woolley. . . 

Bid to heritage list Brumbies – John Ellicott:

Brumbies may be protected for their cultural heritage value in new legislation being drawn up and already, according to the proponents, met with approval by NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro.

With  the expected release soon of the new Wild Horse Management Plan, lobby groups are fighting to preserve substantial brumby populations in national parks, especially  in Kosciuszko National Park.

The Snowy Mountains Bush Users Group wants to prevent a culling of brumbies, which may form part of the new management plan – with ground shooting touted as the most likely form of control. . . 

North And South Island Wool Auctions Receive Varied Support:

New Zealand Wool Services International ltd’s CEO Mr John Dawson reports that the wool auctions in the North and South Islands this week produced considerable price variations for comparative types with the North Island levels well below the South’s.

Of the 19500 bales on offer, 7804 percent sold with the weighted currency indicator, compared to the last sale on 21st December was 1.62 percent higher, adding more downward pressure on local prices.

Mr Dawson advises that the South Island sale compared to when last sold on 15 December saw; . .. 

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Only a farm kid ‘gets’ this.


Rural round-up

December 20, 2016

Merino at heart of firm’s special textiles – Sally Rae:

Global Merino truly lives up to its name.

In August, the company’s founder and chief executive Jose Fernandez and his family moved from the United States to Spain.

The company itself remains based in California, there is an office in Bangkok, its technical director is in Melbourne and much of its merino wool is sourced from New Zealand.

Global Merino is a technical textile manufacturer, founded by Mr Fernandez in 2007, which uses merino wool as a primary ingredient and in a variety of ways. . . 

Livestock learning experience – Sally Rae:

A long day in the sheep yards weaning lambs might not be everyone’s idea of fun  but Scottish teen Jessica England reckons she is living the dream.

Miss England (18), who left school this year, is having a gap experience in New Zealand working on farms.

Her family has a strong connection with New Zealand. She is the great-granddaughter of James Galloway who, with his father Robert, founded the J. W. Galloway business. . . 

Central Otago win tourism growing – Yvonne O’Hhara:

Central Otago is seeing an increase in wine tourism as more tourists wend their way around the region’s cellar doors.

Tourism Central Otago and Central Otago Winegrowers manager Glenys Coughlan said as a result many of the area’s wineries were investing in additional facilities to take advantage of the growth.

”We have certainly seen an increase in interest and investment in wine tourism and I would estimate several million dollars [going] into new and improved facilities in recent times,” Ms Coughlan said. . . 

Up to 40 wasp nests per hectare in Nelson, ecologist says:

A new campaign is under way to combat the heavy wasp population in Nelson-Tasman.

Victoria University insect ecologist Phil Lester said the region, home to honeydew beech forests, has one of the greatest wasp densities in the world, with up to 40 nests per hectare.

A community-led project, which started this week, has been encouraging locals to sign up to put down bait stations containing a wasp poison, Vespex. . . 

Ryan looks forward to challenges :

The New Zealand Farm Environment Trust’s new General Manager James Ryan is looking forward to the challenges the new job will bring.

Christchurch-based James Ryan, a former policy manager with DairyNZ, was appointed in October this year.

He says the Trust will play a crucial role in guiding farmers through an era of increasingly complex sustainability issues. . .

 

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Pay the farmer now or pay the doctor later.


Rural round-up

June 3, 2016

Dairy price estimates are consistently wrong – Keith Woodford:

As occurs each year, the media have focused on Fonterra’s opening forecast for the coming year, predicted this year to be $4.25, as if it has significant meaning. To put that in perspective, here are Fonterra’s opening forecasts and actual payments for the last five years.
Fonterra price estimates

The overall tendency has been for Fonterra to be over-optimistic by $0.58 c per year. However, the average error in the prediction is $1.27c, ranging from minus $2.60 to plus $1.40. In three of the five years, Fonterra has been out by more than $1.30. . . 

NZ Merino inks 5-year, $45M contract with Italy’s Reda, supplier to Armani, Gucci – Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – The New Zealand Merino Company, which markets the nation’s wool to customers on behalf of suppliers, has signed a five-year, $45 million deal to supply fine wool to Italian luxury fabric manufacturer Successori Reda, its longest-ever contract.

The fixed-price contract for 2,500 tonnes of fine wool in the 15.8 to 19.2-micron range effectively locks up supply for all of the qualifying wool that New Zealand will produce over the five-year period, said NZ Merino chief executive John Brakenridge. Previously, NZ Merino’s longest contract period covered three years. . . 

Changes to firearms’ licensing programme will have a major negative impact on rural communities

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) is very concerned about the changes to firearms’ licensing, training and testing, being proposed by the Mountain Safety Council (MSC). The MSC executive has been announcing these changes in a series of road shows around the country. Volunteer instructors are being told their services are no longer required.

The current MSC Firearms Safety Programme has about 480 volunteers with significant hunting and shooting experience. They are based in 150 locations in New Zealand. MSC propose to significantly reduce the number of trainers and the number of locations. . . 

China ‘a big country with lots of different moving parts’ – Tony Benny:

A group of Silver Fern Farms shareholder suppliers are back on their farms following a week-long tour of China where they discovered just how complex the market there is. Tony Benny joined them on tour.

As a 30-strong group of New Zealand farmers, Silver Fern Farms staff and guides – and including three reporters – streak into central Shanghai from Pudong airport aboard the Maglev train, the display in the carriage reads 315kmh.

They’re on the world’s fastest train service, even if this morning it’s down on its usual top operating speed 431kmh.  It will deliver them into a city of 36 million people, the sophisticated, vibrant and stylish heart of shipping and finance in China. . . 

Separation of South Island eel stock:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced changes to quota management for eels in the South Island which will see the current single stock split into two – longfin and shortfin eels.

“Longfin eels are more vulnerable to environmental and other factors, compared to shortfin eels. Therefore it’s important to manage the two species as separate stocks with their own catch limits and sustainability settings,” says Mr Guy. 

“It means we can take into account the different characteristics and value of each species when setting limits, and take a more precautionary approach to longfin eels which are more vulnerable. It is also consistent with how eels are managed in the North Island and the Chathams.”   . . 

Agreement will build a stronger future for the golden breed:

Two organisations committed to the Jersey breed are joining forces and expertise to breed even better dairy cows into the future.

The breed society, Jersey New Zealand, and herd improvement company, Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC), have signed an agreement to work together to jointly select and prove the genetic merit of additional top young Jersey bulls.

The programme will add eight extra bulls to LIC’s current Jersey breeding programme, and will statistically lift the rate of genetic and productive gain for the breed within the industry. . . 

Farm Environment Trust Head Steps Down After Ten Years:

New Zealand Farm Environment Trust general manager David Natzke is stepping down after a decade at the helm of the organisation that administers the highly successful Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust chairman Simon Saunders said Mr Natzke has made a huge contribution to the Trust since his appointment in March 2006.

“Under David’s management the Trust has developed into a highly professional organisation that has grown the Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) into one of our primary sector’s premier events.”

Mr Natzke worked with trustees to manage the Awards programme and expand the list of Trust activities. . . 

RBI cell tower completion boosts rural coverage:

Communications Minister Amy Adams today announced the completion of the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) Phase 1 new tower programme with 154 new cell towers now built ahead of schedule.

Ms Adams was on site to celebrate the completion of the programme in Waipu, and said that under the RBI, nearly 300,000 rural families and businesses are now able to access high speed 3G and 4G broadband services.

Under original specifications, the fixed wireless broadband service was to provide at least 5Mbps peak download speeds. Recent testing shows the 4G service is delivering speeds nine times faster than originally promised.. . .

Kiwi Farmers plough through the most 4G data:

Spark has found that farmers and the rural sector are consistently the highest users of 4G data across all of New Zealand.

When analysing data traffic over the last month, Spark’s cell towers in both Waiuku and Te Puke show the highest use in all of New Zealand. Farmers and rural residents in these two locations are consistently using over 1 terrabyte of data every week – which is the equivalent of watching 1000 hours (or nearly 42 days!) of non-stop online TV content like Lightbox each week.

Other rural sites including Pukekura, Te Awamutu, Pukekohe and Te Kawa also rank extremely high in 4G data usage, demonstrating that Kiwi farmers are now using mobile technology to enhance their businesses – whether that’s at the farm-gate, on the road or in the paddock. . . 


Rural round-up

May 10, 2016

What impact do milk solids payouts have on the economy?:

Milk solids payouts have been in the news a lot of late with a rollercoaster ride of pricing that has shaken the farming sector’s confidence.

But what impact do these fluctuating prices have on the broader economy?

In the May year 2013/14, Fonterra paid its milk suppliers $8.40/kg for milk solids (excluding the dividend for shareholders). That is $1.3 million for the average dairy herd at the time of 413 cows producing 153,012 kg of milk solids. . . 

Farmers desperate for rain – Rhys Chamberlain:

The seemingly endless summer produced balmy days across Otago but the unseasonably warm start to autumn has caused further headaches for drought-hit farmers.

Niwa statistics show Dunedin is on track to record its second-lowest autumn rainfall on record with about three weeks to go before winter officially starts.

Although another 6mm of rain fell yesterday, Dunedin recorded just 53mm of rain between March 1 and May 7, just 6mm more than the 1939 record low. . . 

Chinese meat processors look to NZ ahead of chilled meat deal:

The new John Key-brokered deal to gain access for chilled meat to the China market is already attracting Chinese meat processors to the Bank of China (NZ) Agri-Business Investment and Trade Conference in anticipation of China relaxing the rules.

During Prime Minister Key’s recent visit to China, he was given an undertaking that the meat protocols between the respective regulatory authorities would be reformed to allow chilled meat exports to China. The deal, when it goes through, will add multi-millions to New Zealand’s trade with China. . . 

Organic dairy farmers reaping just rewards:

The huge rise in the milk payout to organic dairy farmers is a welcome encouragement for the dairy sector to move towards clean, green and high-value production, according to the Soil & Health Association.

Fonterra just announced a big jump in the milk payout to organic farmers, due to increasing global demand. For the 2016-17 season organic farmers will receive $9.20 per kg of milk solids, up from the current organic price of $5.65. Non-organic milk solids fetch just $3.90.

“Consumers worldwide are demanding safe, healthy food, and are prepared to pay for high quality, GE-free, organic dairy products,” said Marion Thomson, co-chair of Soil & Health. . . 

Silver Fern Farms Propose to Relocate Islington Venison Operations to South Canterbury:

 As a result of the pending expiry of its lease, and change in surrounding land use, Silver Fern Farms is consulting with staff at its Islington venison processing plant on options for closing the site and building a new integrated venison processing plant at its Pareora site, in South Canterbury.

Silver Fern farms currently leases land on the Waterloo Road site. The lease is shortly due to expire and the current plant buildings on the site are planned to be demolished to make way for new commercial developments at the Waterloo Business Park.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Dean Hamilton says staying on the Waterloo Business Park site is no longer an option for the company. . . 

Pipfruit New Zealand gains role in protecting NZ biosecurity:

New Zealand’s $700 million pipfruit industry says it will have greater confidence in the country’s biosecurity system now that it will play an influencing role in helping to manage and govern biosecurity and risk.

Pipfruit New Zealand’s chief executive Alan Pollard said growers have welcomed the Government Industry Agreement for Readiness and Response (GIA) and supported the partnership with Government. . . 

Dairy Trainees Embark On Eye-Opening Study Tour:

The 11 finalists in the 2016 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year competition begin a three-day study tour today, visiting award-winning farmers, Fonterra Innovation and Massey University’s No 4 dairy farm.

The trainees will also have a health check, visit a robotic farm, a goat farm, a raw milk farm and hear from a range of speakers on the state of the dairy industry and also on setting and achieving goals.

The tour will finish in Wellington where the group will join finalists in the New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year competitions. The final aspect of their judging, an interview, will take place on Friday before the winners of the three competitions are announced at the 2016 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards national awards dinner at the TSB Arenaon Saturday night . The winners will share about $170,000 in cash and prizes. . . 

Judges Begin Search For National Winner Of Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

The New Zealand Farm Environment Trust has assembled a strong line-up of judges to decide the next recipients of the esteemed Gordon Stephenson trophy.

Comprising six people with a broad range of skills and experience, the National Winner Judging Panel will select the next trophy holders from the eleven Supreme winners in the 2016 Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA).

The recipients will be announced at New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust’s National Sustainability Showcase in Northland on June 22, becoming ambassadors for the primary industry in a role that will take them around the country and beyond as they promote the importance of sustainable farming. . . 

Duncan Venison Unveils The “Bistro Fillet,”

A New, Innovative Premium Venison Cut:

Duncan Venison, one of New Zealand’s original venison producers, has developed a brand new item, which it has named the “Bistro Fillet.” The restaurant quality cut will be available to the public from 1 July, through a recently developed online store at duncan-nz.com.

Andrew and Vinnie Duncan, owners of the company, discovered the fillet when looking into ways to make the venison leg more useable, consistent and convenient for restaurants. They found a way to trim and portion the meat in that area, which has resulted in a tender, top quality cut that is ready for immediate cooking and serving. . . 


Rural round-up

January 13, 2016

Alliance moves to deepen cooperative culture as Silver Fern sells stake – Tina Morrison:

Alliance Group, New Zealand’s second-largest meat processor, plans to entrench its cooperative status, encouraging farmers to ‘share up’ at a time larger rival Silver Fern Farms is watering down its cooperative by tapping a Chinese investor for capital to repay debt, upgrade plants and invest for growth.

Farmer groups failed last year to force a mega-merger on the country’s two large South Island-based meat cooperatives. Both changed chief executives last financial year and Dunedin-based Silver Fern is now awaiting regulatory approval for the $261 million sale of half its business to Shanghai Maling Aquarius, while Invercargill-based Alliance is moving its business model further towards a cooperative system. . . 

Milking sheep has potential to earn billions of dollars for NZ –  Jill Galloway:

Isobel Lees did a veterinary degree at Massey University and is now in Grenoble, France, doing a post graduate study in sheep milking.

She says her research investigating if New Zealand can establish an internationally competitive sheep dairy industry might shed light about how farmers might set up the industry.

“This research focused on the lessons learnt from France, a world leader in sheep dairy.”

Her studies indicate there is vast potential for New Zealand to establish a sheep dairy industry and for it to be a billion dollar contributor to the economy.

“New Zealand has a competitive advantage and superior performance. It has pasture-based agricultural production systems, leading innovations from the dedicated agricultural research community and market leading standards for sustainability, animal welfare and food safety.” . . .

Turangi Maori land trust brings in Chinese partners for sheep milk expansion – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Waituhi Kuratau Trust, the Turangi-based Maori land trust, has teamed up with Chinese interests to develop its sheep-milking interests as part of a plan to sell into the world’s most-populous nation.

The trust sold a leasehold interest in 490 hectares of land in Kuratau to Maui Milk for $1.2 million, which has been slated for development into a sheep dairy farm, according to the Overseas Investment Office summary approving the transaction. The trust owns 40 percent of Maui Milk, with the remainder held by four Chinese nationals. . . 

Govt happy with farm conditions monitoring:

The Government is ruling out an an inquiry into the pay and conditions of farm workers in New Zealand, saying standards are already in place.

Former Council of Trade Unions head Helen Kelly made the call, saying many farm workers were working up to 70 hours a week for low pay, and that was leading to high staff turnover. 

She said fatigue was a major cause of workplace accidents, and an official inquiry was needed to introduce regulations.

But Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse said the Labour Inspectorate already monitored non-compliance with minimum employment standards in the dairy sector. . . 

Right attitude key to $70k jobs – Tamsyn Parker:

A farm worker with the right attitude could take fewer than five years to get to a $70k-plus salary, says an industry leader.

Andrew Hoggard, a farmer who is on the board of farming body Federated Farmers, said Seek data showing a 14 per cent rise in the average salary for the sector was probably a little high as it was based only on jobs advertised through that business. . . 

Federated Farmers mourns the loss of life member Gordon Stephenson:

Federated Farmers expresses their deepest sympathies to the family of farmer and environmentalist Gordon Stephenson who died on Boxing Day.

A stalwart of Federated Farmers, Mr. Stephenson served as national chairman of the dairy section from 1973 to 1977 and instigated the Farm Environment Awards in 1991.

“Gordon was instrumental in the formation of QEII National Trust and the legacy he’s left behind can be seen all around the country in the land and native forests now voluntarily protected by farmers through the Trust,” says Federated Farmers National President Dr. William Rolleston. . . 

Farm Environment Awards Founder Leaves Lasting Legacy:

The passing of Farm Environment Awards founder Gordon Stephenson is a huge loss for New Zealand agriculture, Simon Saunders, chairman of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust (NZFET), says.

“Gordon was a farsighted and inspirational leader. As a passionate advocate for conservation he was steadfast in his belief that good farming and good environmental management go hand in hand. This message is still very much at the heart of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) today.”

Mr Saunders says the establishment of NZFET and the success of the BFEA programme are legacies of Gordon Stephenson’s drive and vision. . . 

Federated Farmers grieves loss of former Chief Executive:

Federated Farmers is saddened by the death of former Chief Executive Tony St Clair.

Mr. St Clair served as Chief Executive between 1997 and 2005 following several years as Executive Director of the Victorian Farmers Federation.

“Tony was an inspirational and passionate advocate for agriculture and farming and he had an intimate and detailed knowledge and understanding of Federated Farmers,” says Federated Farmers National President Dr. William Rolleston. . . .

 

Fonterra Announces Record Export Volumes in December:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced it has exported record volumes for the month of December 2015.

Export data for the Co-operative in December confirms the new record for a single month’s volume, with more than 300,000 MT shipped to its global markets.

December’s volume was approximately 10 per cent higher than Fonterra’s previous record month in December 2014. . . 

NZ honey exports double in November on manuka demand – Tina Morrison::

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand honey exports doubled in November as the country benefited from demand for high-value manuka honey.

The value of honey exports jumped to $27.4 million in November from $13.6 million the same month a year earlier, according to the latest Statistics New Zealand data. That helped boost the annual value of honey exports in the 12 months through November by 45 percent to $281 million, the figures showed.

New Zealand is the world’s third-largest exporter of honey by value, behind China and Argentina. However it is only the 16th biggest global supplier on a volume basis, reflecting the premium price garnered for manuka honey, which accounts for as much as 80 percent of New Zealand exports and is prized for its health benefits. . .

Final report into killer swedes released:

The group investigating the fatal poisoning of hundreds of animals by swedes in Southland has issued one last warning to farmers not to feed herbicide tolerant swedes to cows in the spring.

The Southland Swedes working group today released its final report into the incident which left hundreds – if not thousands – of sheep and cows dead across the region.

In 2014 farmers across Southland reported sick, dead and dying livestock – after they’d been fed on swedes – mostly a new herbicide tolerant variety developed and sold by PGG Wrightson Seeds.

Farmers were subsequently warned by industry experts not to feed the HT Swede variety to cows when they were heavily pregnant or with calves – because the chemically mutated HT swedes were producing unnaturally high levels of glucosinolates that are toxic to livestock. . . 

 Recreational fishing parks proposed in Hauraki Gulf and Marlborough Sounds as part of Marine Protected Area reform:

The Government has today launched a consultation document on a new Marine Protected Areas Act to replace the Marine Reserves Act 1971 that includes proposals for recreational fishing parks in the inner Hauraki Gulf and Marlborough Sounds.

“We are proposing a new system of marine protection that will include marine reserves, species-specific sanctuaries, seabed reserves, and recreational fishing parks. This more sophisticated approach with four different types of marine protection is similar to the graduated approach we take to reserves on land that vary from strict nature reserves to those for a specific or recreational purpose,” says Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith.

“We want to improve community and iwi involvement in marine protection and develop a comprehensive network of areas that better protects marine life and which enhances New Zealanders’ enjoyment of our marine environment.” . . 

Seafood industry supports sustainable fisheries:

The seafood sector supports effective marine conservation, its Chief Executive Tim Pankhurst said today.

He was commenting on today’s release of a consultation document on a new Marine Protected Areas Act to replace the Marine Reserves Act 1971 that includes proposals for recreational fishing parks in the inner Hauraki Gulf and Marlborough Sounds.

The proposals would cut commercial fishing in the proposed areas. . . 

Easing NZ Dollar Helps Lift Local Wool Market:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s C.E.O, Mr John Dawson reports that the first sale after the Christmas break of approximately 13,700 bales from the North Island saw a generally firmer market in local terms with 98.5 percent selling.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies eased 1.3 percent compared to the last sale on 17th December, however compared to the US dollar the New Zealand was back 1.9 percent. This weakening NZ dollar underpinned the market for most types. . . 

Grow Food, Not Lawns's photo.


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